Felicity Pryke was both a licensed reflexologist and yoga teacher before she started her health and wellness business, Finding Felicity. Her yoga classes and reflexology sessions are all designed to help her students move towards greater happiness through breath work, gentle movement and relaxation. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit last spring, Chorley, England-based Pryke was fortunate enough to find it relatively easy to move her business online and now that restrictions are lifting she is able to practice reflexology in person again. Though she finds it tricky to balance a full time day job in addition to running her business, Pryke finds fulfillment in knowing she is helping others find happiness and appreciates that online classes have let her expand her offerings to an international audience.
Pryke’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
My business initially started through my work as a reflexologist, a qualification that I had gained but never felt I had time to utilize until after I left my husband. I then trained as a yoga teacher, always intending to do both reflexology and yoga teaching. At the same time I became fascinated by the science of happiness, completing an online course and learning so much about myself along the way – including why I left my husband! Imbued with a new purpose, I became compelled to combine everything I had learnt into one business.
I also have a day job, which is separate from the business. I work in finance for a construction and maintenance company. I have been able to combine this with my passion a little, becoming a Wellbeing Ambassador and doing 30-minute chair-based yoga classes every Friday for my colleagues. Again, I have been able to use the opportunity of the online video conferencing that we are all now very used to and helped colleagues around the country to ease their bodies after a week bound to a desk.
How do you define success?
I have always wanted to change the world but I know that changing the world involves changing individuals. And that you can’t force people to change but you can show people to their own paths of change. Success for me is when I see my clients – or myself – make those small changes which in turn can start to change the world.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
My biggest success was pivoting at the start of the pandemic lockdown. I was one of the first of my peers to take yoga online. It seemed like an obvious thing to do despite many teachers at the time thinking it was an impossible idea. It turns out to be an excellent way of teaching and a perfect way to deliver my Yoga & Happiness classes.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The most challenging thing has been getting students in! It is an original concept that sits somewhere between yoga teaching and wellbeing coaching. As with all new businesses, building an audience and customer base is always a challenge. Squeezing in running a business alongside a full-time job has been incredibly challenging as well. I have learnt to be very structured in my life, planning exactly what I do and when. I also had to learn to be patient – I simply cannot accomplish as much as someone who can work full time on their business.
Another challenge was of course, the Pandemic. Luckily moving online made perfect sense for my Yoga & Happiness classes during the Pandemic. The classes themselves involve yoga posture practice, breathing and meditation, and then group discussion around various topics regarding happiness and wellbeing. Our monthly themes include ‘Meaning & Purpose’, ‘Stress & Anxiety’, and ‘Gratitude’. I had already trialled this in “real-life” classes and it worked well but moving online seemed obvious once COVID-19 presented the opportunity. I already knew a little bit about the tech and knew I could share slides via Zoom. This made the presentations much more informative and professional. It also pushed me to create the community within Facebook which means I can share even more information with my regular students outside of the classes.
I was also excited about bringing this completely unique combination of teachings to a wider audience. Teaching online has meant I can reach so many more people – I’ve taught people in the USA, Canada, Columbia and Pakistan in the last year! A lot of the science and philosophy transcends national borders – all humans want to be happy, and everyone has their own obstacles to overcome. I don’t see myself as a coach, more as a guide, empowering people to take ownership of their own journey. Reflexology has been a lovely thing that I have been able to do as restrictions have been lifted! It’s not something I’ve really brought into my online space although I sometimes guide people through some self-massage in my live broadcasts on Facebook.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
My divorce was the catalyst for everything! I was living a life that was seemingly perfectly happy but it was ultimately unfulfilling. I left my husband and then spent 6 months working out why I left my husband. I then spent years learning about the science of happiness and how happiness is far deeper than pleasure and this knowledge has become fundamental to the business I have today.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
The best advice I ever received was, “done is better than perfect”. You can spend ages perfecting the finer details but you are wasting every second that you don’t launch.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I wrote my signature course on the fly as I delivered it. Having students – even if it was just four of them – paying for and expecting my next class was the best motivation I could have asked for. Now I have a year’s worth of material which I cycle through. I feel so incredibly proud of what I have already created and how it is already helping people.
Who is your most important role model?
This one is really hard! Women who have overcome huge adversity and stayed true to themselves like Josephine Baker, Maya Angelou and Marie Stopes. Integrity in the face of challenge is incredibly important to me.